Tuesday, January 3, 2012

In 2011, Online Activism and Hacktivism highlights the importance of Business Continuity Planning

Business Continuity Planning involves understanding risks such as natural disasters, facilities and supplier outages to a business, and putting into place a robust mitigation plan for prevention and response in case any risk is realized. BCP is important for both large and small enterprises. In large organizations, BCP is driven by a systemic organizational process.

Online activism in UK and Middle East, arose spontaneously  triggered by a singlular events like the death of Mark Duggan in UK—who was shot dead after being stopped by the police—and in Egypt, Khaled Said,  who was beaten to death by security forces. Protests have swept across Morocco,Tunisia, and the Gulf region. Protest were fueled by need for political reform. Pages on Facebook became a rallying point for protest, twitter and messengers were used for coordination ,and  YouTube, Blog sites and Twitter were used to report incidents live to global audiences.

In an attempt to quash the growing protests, governments started blocking or monitoring social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. In some cases countries imposed Internet blackouts for upto five days or as in Libya, pulled the plug on the Internet. In January 2011, the Egyptian government shut down Internet and mobile communication for five days, leaving Egyptians with landlines as their only mode of communication.

The protest and street violence say the closure of business across the country and the Internet blackouts affected online communications and businesses. The blackout cost Egypt at least $90 million. A complete overview of site blockages in 2011 is available as part of the Google’s Transparency Report.

The extreme form of online activism, Hacktivism, saw significant hacks such as that of Sony Playstation Network by Anonymous, a Hacktivist group which halted the company operations for over a month and ran up a loss of 200m$. There were several other such hacktivist campaigns against banks, suppliers associated with the US government and political websites.

The three key learning from these incidents are:
1.      Online activism or Hacktivism can spontaneously result in disruption at a scale which is unprecedented. An analysis of the stability of the political environment and its impact on the functioning of the country is paramount to BCP planning.
2.      Resetting a country involves a regime or policy changes that take years. Therefore do not expect a short term effect on business operations
3.      Social unrest in a recessionary world is on an uptick and is not solely related to third world countries as believed prior

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